Friday, June 15, 2018

Kickstart Your Weekend: Harvesters

Troll Lords does great Kickstarters. This one is no exception.

Harvesters the Role Playing Game


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/676918054/harvesters-the-role-playing-game

From the Kickstarter:
WHAT IS HARVESTERS?

Harvesters is a complete all-in-one table top role playing game packaged in a stout box, with rules, dice, adventures and maps!

Begin an epic journey in the rugged tracks of unlikely heroes. Enter the world of Harvesters, where badgers, rabbits, squirrels, and otters launch into adventures of epic wonder. Here, the smallest of creatures take on the roles of the greatest heroes: Knights, Druids, Clerics, Rogues, Wizards, and Fighters. Together, they tackle the greatest of exploits, from rescuing the princess to finding lost treasure. You'll find no humans here, only animals. They live their daily lives and do work just like humans do in your world. You may find a rabbit as a local constable, or a squirrel as a baker or a mouse as a black smith.

Art by Jim Holloway!

Chose from one of five animals to play: rabbits/hares, squirrels, badgers, otters, and mice.
This would have been great when my kids were little.  But I still think it would be a lot of fun.

In any case, this looks like fun.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

OMG: Babylonian, Sumerian and Akkadian, Part 3

I want to wrap up this edition of OMG with some of the missing gods and demons from the Babylonian, Sumerian and Akkadian myths in the Deities & Demigods.

Let's mention an OBVIOUS miss here.
Where is Ereshkigal?  The world's first goth-girl and she isn't here?  That's a freaking crime in my book.  Well, let's fix that.  If you want to classify her she belongs to the Sumerian Myths, her cult has been taken over by her husband Nergal by the time of the Babylonian myths.

Burney Relief
Ereshkigal
ARMOR CLASS: -4
MOVE: 12"
HIT POINTS: 250
NO. OF ATTACKS: 2
DAMAGE/ATTACK: See below
SPECIAL ATTACKS:  See below
SPECIAL DEFENSES: Immune to poisons, disease, and death causing magic
MAGIC RESISTANCE: 75%
SIZE: M (6')
ALIGNMENT: Neutral Evil
WORSHIPER'S ALIGN: All alignments
SYMBOL: Female with four wings and clawed feet
PLANE: Kur (section of Hades)
CLERIC/DRUID: 15th level cleric
FIGHTER: Nil
MAGIC-USER/ILLUSIONIST/WITCH: 25th level witch
THIEF/ASSASSIN: 15th level assassin
MONK/BARD: Nil
PSIONIC ABILITY: Nil
S:25 ( + 7, + 14) 1: 20 W: 15 D: 20 C: 23 CH: 25

Animal: Owl
Color: Black
Day of Worship: Friday

Ereshkigal is Queen of the Underworld. Here she keeps the dead and not even the gods can sway her.  She has made exceptions, in particular to her sister Innana/Ishtar, but to none other.

Ereshkigal knows all the spells granted by the Sumerian gods, since all secrets come to her.  She also knows all the spells of witchcraft, which are of her design.  She can cast two spells per round at separate targets if she chooses.

Her rivalry with her sister Innana/Ishtar is legendary.
Ereshkigal would later be syncretized with the Greek Hecate and some of her aspects would also form the story of Lilith.  Indeed in my own research time, the Burney Relief has gone from a representation of Lilith (which was tenuous at best) to a representation of Ereshkigal.

She is mentioned in Return to the Keep on the Borderlands and I swear there were other mentions of her in other D&D books, but so far I found nothing.


Pazuzu
Also not present in the D&DG, but certainly a demon of note (and notoriety) is Pazuzu.   Good old Pazuzu was the king of the demons of the wind and the bringer of storms, famine, and drought. He was the demon of the southwestern wind.  He was not a god, though he was the son of the god Hanbi/Hanbu.
Pazuzu, of course, rose to fame and popularity thanks in large part to the Exorcist movies.  I consider the Exorcist to be one of the scariest movies ever made and having Pazuzu as the "big bad" only helps that.  A demon as old as civilization itself?  Yeah, that's some scary shit.  He makes his AD&D debut in the Monster Manual II.

He seems to have a long history even in myth.  He is likely an Assyrian import, maybe even from the Levant.  So that is quite a demonic pedigree to be the demon of so many different cultures. In my games, Pazuzu is an Eodemon, a demonic race that appeared before all the others.

One thing not considered in Monster Manual II version of him is his battles to stop another demon Lamashtu.  Pazuzu effectively guards human from her evils.

Lamashtu
Now in truth, I see why she was not included.  I mean if no Pazuzu then no need to have her too.  According to some texts, she was a demoness or a goddess.  She is also associated with witchcraft and the murder or newborns and infants. She has many features that would later be syncretized by or with Lilith and other female night demons.  She is currently a god in the Pathfinder setting.

I posted a demon Lamashtu a while back.  Here are some stats.

FREQUENCY:  Uncommon
NO.  APPEARING:  1  or  1-3
ARMOR  CLASS:  -1
MOVE:  9"/12"
HIT  DICE:  10
%  IN  LAIR:  25%
TREASURE  TYPE:  F
NO.  OF  ATTACKS:  3
DAMAGE/ATTACK:  1-6/1-6/2-8
SPECIAL  ATTACKS:  bonus  of  +2  to  hit;  also  see  below  (Con drain)
SPECIAL  DEFENSES:  +  1  or  better  weapons  to  hit
MAGIC  RESISTANCE:  65%
INTELLIGENCE:  Very
ALIGNMENT:  Chaotic  evil
SIZE:  L  (9'+  tall)
PSlONlC  ABILITY:  150
  Attack/Defense  Modes:  A,  C,  D/F,  G,  H

Lamashtu are powerful demons, close only to the Lilitu themselves.  Believed to be the offspring of Lilth and the various Eodemons. These demons are old even by demonic terms.  Their natural form is a horrid hybrid of a linoness’ head, donkey ears, and teeth, a hairy human female body, with the hindquarters of a pig.  They are commonly holding a large snake.  In their “human” form they prefer to disguise themselves as old women or nursemaids.  This gives them access to their preferred prey, newborn babies.  Once she has gained access to a new-born babe she will carry it off till she can find a safe place to eat it.  Lamashtu are not tempters, they hunger and only flesh will satisfy them.  They can be held at bay if a witch prepares a special talisman.    Her song drains Constitution to all who hear it, 2 points per night.  Anyone so drained must make a Constitution based save or fall asleep.
Lamashtu may cast spells as a 7th level witch.



Dagon
Dagon is an improt to this mythology.
Here is another problem.  Dagon is a god. Dagon is a demon. Dagon is some sort of Lovecraftian Old One. Or he is all of those things.

I think my favorite take on him was in the 3.5 edition Hordes of the Abyss and the 4th edition Monster Manual 2. Where he is just this really ancient thing. For me that makes him an Eodemon.
Somehow I'd like to capture all aspects of this creature in one whole.

I think it is time to leave the Fertile Crescent. Should I move forward alphabetically or chronologically? 

You can read Part 1 here.
You can read Part 2 here.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Weekend Gaming: Back into the Nentir Vale!

Gaming life at the Brannan house has been dominated by my oldest son running three separate and independent D&D 5 games.   My youngest is playing in one of them.  So a lot of games are happening in my house, just most of them don't involve me!



Well we got a chance to work in one of our three campaigns this weekend, my 4e/5e Forgotten Realms blend Into the Nentir Vale

This weekend the party went into the Thunderspire Mountains to learn more and potentially stop the Bloodreavers, a gang of slavers.  Here they have learned of more conspiracies and more infiltration by demons into the Realms.  Harper agent Jassic Winterhaven/Jassic Goodwalker has already been assigned to keep an eye on them.





I am also taking a page out of the Forgotten Realms novel series "The Brimstone Angels" and having the growing population of Dragonborn worshipping the Babylonian/Sumerian/Akkadian gods or what is known in the Realms as the Untheric Pantheon in Powers & Pantheons.

The heroes managed to get into the Temple of Eyes and have killed the leaders of the Bloodreavers.  I am going to skip ahead to the Well of Demons since I really need to trim these adventures down anyway.  But it should be a lot of fun!


Friday, June 8, 2018

Kickstart Your Weekend: Runewild

This one just came to me today and it looks so cool I have to share.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/matthewjhanson/the-runewild-a-fey-themed-5e-sandbox-campaign?ref=theotherside



A dark, fey themed 5e adventure sandbox featuring 12 different witch covens?
It sounds like someone has been reading my Christmas list!

160+ pages and we get:

  • A history of the Runewild and its surrounding settlements. 
  • 100 detailed encounter areas for player characters to explore. 
  • New optional rules for exploring and resting 
  • Advice for running a sandbox campaign 
  • A new feat: Fey-Touched 
  •  13 unique magic items (like witch embers and the staff of clarity and confusion) 
  • 32 new monsters (including clockwork dwarves, fey lions, giant forest sloths, and the terrifyingly beautiful Golden Bodach). 
  •  Detailed descriptions of the histories, motivations, and weaknesses of the witches of the Runewild, including the Whitebone Sisters; Missus Switch, the swine hag; Korthsuva, the Witch of Hours; and the hag-queen Griselda, Mother of Ogres. 

Seriously.  Let's get this one backed and funded so we can have all this great stuff.

Plus it looks like the book is already done, just minus some art and layout.

Looks great.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

This Old Dragon: Issue #71

Grabbing an early one from my stack today and I see this is another one from Eric Harshbarger. How can I tell?  The cover is intact and it doesn't smell like mildew. Which is great because this is also one of my favorite covers.  Certainly in my top ten. 
So let's see, March 1983.  Heavy into B/X D&D at this point, though I do know about AD&D.  We used to regularly mix and match so this was never an issue.  So let's crack these pages and get going with issue #71 of This Old Dragon!

I mentioned this was one of my favorite covers and I think it might also be the first Clyde Caldwell cover I had ever seen.  It's also a fairly atypical Caldwell cover. But I still like it.

Nice back of the cover ad for the AD&D books.

Letters starts off with a general WTF on the Mazes and Monsters movie. I have to agree.  It's been ages since I have seen it, maybe I should look it up. (It is free on AmazonPrime).

First up is the man himself, Gary Gygax From the Sorcerror's Scroll on new druid spells.  Of we know a lot of these make their way to Unearthed Arcana, that is still a bit away.  He also mentions that the Cavalier is coming next month and that we should not believe everything we read about TSR in other magazines.   We also get some sneak peaks into upcoming modules.  Temple of Elemental Evil is now designated WG 2, part 1 and 2. The Maze of Xaene by Rob Kuntz is also "on the way".

The Blink of a Wizard's Eye is the fiction section.

Mind of the Monster by Bruce Humphrey is one of the articles that you know you should do, but wonder why sometimes you don't.  That is give the monsters the benefit of their intelligence.  Yes, their overall purpose is to be defeated by the PCs, but at least they can be intelligent about it.

Gary is back with Greyhawk's World featuring some demi- and quasi- gods of Greyhawk.  Also known as some of Gary's and gang former characters.  We get Heward (a Wizard), Keoghtom (of the ointment fame), Murlynd (refugee from the "Wild West"). and Kelanen. 

Ronald Hall has a huge article on attack priority in Who Gets the First Swing?  A new rule system to help add some detail and "realism" to combat.  There are tables after tables detailing what the monsters can do.  Me? I am happy with initiative as it is/was.

The Taming of Brimstone is a Boot Hill adventure that I might transfer over to Ghosts of Albion and give it a go.  Looks fun. Anyone play it?

Roger Moore has some Astral Plane answers in Sage Advice.

More Gary and More Gods in The Deities and Demigods of Greyhawk.   We get Erythnull, Incabulos, Nerull, Ralishaz, and Wastri. Fun stuff really. 

Few pages of ads.  There have not really been that many ads in this issue.

Ken Rolston reviews Swordbearer. John Warren reviews Dunzhin. I have to admit I am not at all familiar with either game.

More ads.
What's New.
Dragonmirth.
and Wormy.

All in all a good issue, but a product of it's time really.  Not a lot I can reuse today, but sure was fun to reread.

Want to know what was going on the same time in White Dwarf? Check out my White Dwarf Wednesday #39 post which was my first White Dwarf ever.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

OMG: Babylonian, Sumerian and Akkadian, Part 2

I am going to spend some more time today with the Babylonian myths and focus on a couple of the personalities in particular.

Again, I am not doing this to poke holes in the scholarship of the original authors of Deities & Demigods.  We have learned a great deal more about these myths and stories than we knew back in the 1980s. AND this is not a historical text. This is a game book, it has different rules as it were.

Who's In Charge Around Here?
I do have one nitpick that I need to get off my chest and it involves Marduk.   What makes Babylonian myths well, Babylonian, is that they come from the city of Babylon.  Whose chief god was Marduk.  So who is this Anu guy?  Well...these are not easy questions.  Anu was an important god of the Mesopotamian religion and described as the father of Enlil (see the Sumerian myths) and the first main god worshiped...well ever, calling him the "Chief of all the Babylonian Deities" is a stretch.  Now if "Babylonian" = these gods and not "Babylonian" = The City of Babylon then ok.  But the chief god of Babylon was Marduk.  He was the most powerful and the one later kings of Babylon would swear fealty to; known as "Taking the Hand of Marduk".   So why isn't Marduk the 400 hp Greater God?  Well I guess this works better for this book.
Also, the physical description of Marduk has me scratching my head a bit.  None of the reliefs I have seen look like that. In fact the only other place I have seen this version of Marduk is in the Real Ghostbuster cartoon "I Am the City".
For the record. I DO think Marduk would have LOVED New York and the Ultimate City.  And I say this as a Chicagoan.



I believe the image came from descriptions of Marduk seeing twice as much/far as others, or being more than the other gods and men.

Bizzare Love Triangle
It's hard to talk about Marduk in AD&D and NOT bring up Tiamat.  Heck even in the Ghostbusters cartoon Marduk (the god of civilization) battles Tiamat the Goddess of Chaos.  Hmm.  Ok, so let's go back a bit.

The year is 1990 and young former-Physics, turned Psychology, student Tim Brannan has become disillusioned with the physics-envy in his field and wants something a little more on the start-up edge of science.   Enter Chaos Theory. The book "Turbulent Mirror: An Illustrated Guide to Chaos Theory and the Science of Wholeness" was released and I was mesmerized.   I was convinced (and still am on some levels) that my then research into human memory based on chaotic structures (see my senior honors paper and eventual Master Thesis).  I never got a far as I wanted on this.  Maybe one day.
That is not important today.  Today I want to talk about the Turbulent Mirror and Tiamat.

Now I remembered from my class in mythology some 2-3 years before that Tiamat represented Chaos.  Turbulent Mirror took this and ran with it, and took my imagination with it.

Why is Tiamat a "Lawful evil" dragon?  Shouldn't she be Chaotic Evil?
I have talked about Tiamat many times, but this post explains why I want to be Chaotic and not Lawful.

So now we have Tiamat battling Marduk and Tiamat battling Bahamut.  I used to refer to this as the "Bizzare Love Triangle" after the New Order song.  Irritated my then DM to no end.  I will need to come back to Bahamut some day.  Is he Marduk?  No. But I have no good reasoning yet.  MAYBE Marduk is the only "non-human diety" because he looks like a Dragonborn!  That would work well with what they are doing with the Dragonborn in the Forgotten Realms.

I keep Tiamat mostly as she is in the Monster Manual. Save she is now Chaotic Evil.  She always acted like it anyway.



Dragon Tales
Tiamat is not the only dragon in the Babylonian myths.
Right above Druaga is another Persian import, Dahak.
Dahak, or Zahhak or Aži Dahāka is the "three-headed dragon of death".   Wow.  How could that even be remotely ignored?

Well while Dahak certainly sounds like one of the monsters that Tiamat would produce he is from Iran and not Iraq like Tiamat is (to use the modern countries).

When my oldest son was little we grabbed every book on dragons we could find.  He loved, and still loves, dragons.  He read the stories about Dahak and decided that this was the dragon he wanted to explore more.

To that end he came up with both OSR stats and Pathfinder/3.x stats.   He is working on a 5e version too since that is now his game of choice.
For us, Aži Dahāka is the offspring of Tiamat and Demogorgon.  Part of an ancient pact to provide them both with a monster capable of great destruction.  Well, they got more than they could handle.

Funny thing is that when Liam decided to take on Aži Dahāka and I had forgotton all about Dahak in this book. I am glad I could come back to him full circle as it were.

Wow. I still have more to say about this part of the world.  Looks like a Part 3 will has to happen.

You can read Part 1 here.
You can read Part 3 here.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Got My OSR Patch

Just in time for Gen Con!


I'll get one of these sewn on to my "bag of holding" before August.

Want one?  Check out the original post over at Tenkar's.

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